NDEMO: Applications enabled by emerging technologies are potentially limitless
4 months ago, 12 Mar 10:48
The fourth industrial revolution is underway. It is building on the rapid adoption of Information and Telecommunications Technologies (ICTs) that was the basis of the third industrial revolution. This revolution’s disruptive path across the world is referred to as digital transformation. Although there isn’t a conclusive definition of digital transformation, it is characterised by different components of new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and 5G. Introduction of any of these technological components anywhere can be unsettling. However, their advent heralds a great opportunity for solving society’s most pressing problems. In virtually every sector that has leveraged these technologies, there are better outcomes. OPPONENTS' NARROW VIEW Opponents, however, take a narrow view of the potential benefits that society gets from their adoption. They fail to see the big picture. Others think the onslaught of these technologies is a passing cloud. The truth is that such technologies are here to say as they become popular even with the opponents. Some forward-looking countries have adopted mechanisms to look into their impact on their economies. In Africa, Kenya has taken an early lead to develop a roadmap for greater adoption of the technologies. In my view, these technologies are the knight in shining armour for Africa after many years of playing catch-up with the rest of the world. Now, with the right leadership, the continent has the opportunity to leapfrog development. I say leapfrog because Africa does not have legacy issues faced by many countries. Africa is starting on a clean slate. In manufacturing, for example, large-scale production will give way to cheaper customised micro-productions (see Figure 1 below where a combination of 5G and AI work in tandem to micro-manufacture ballpoint pens). Those working in legacy manufacturing outfits will lose jobs but only those who embrace life-long learning will build new skill sets to produce at the micro-level. The future of jobs and learning has become more important today than in any other period in history. Last year, I participated in two conferences that sought to understand the future with these new technologies. The first meeting was in Ottawa, Canada, looking into the future of work in a world that is embracing AI-supported autonomous manufacturing. The second was in Berlin, where we discussed the future of learning and how new technologies will impact learning as we know it today. At the World Mobile Congress last month in Barcelona, the buzz was 5G, AI and IoT. In some cases they are all used in combination to create new enterprises that never existed before. Indeed several companies are using these three emerging technologies to develop new solutions. For example, the Digital Sky Initiative (DSI) by Huawei will significantly disrupt the transport industry. DSI 1.0 gave rise to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that can reach a height 50 metres, enough to be deployed for agricultural inspection applications. Version 2.0 of the DSI went up to 50 metres and now version 3.0 can reach 300 metres. Version ...
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